Young workers with health conditions linked to poor work productivity

Young adults who are living with more than one health condition experienced poorer productivity in the workplace, according to a new study involving Curtin University researchers.

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The research, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, analysed data from the Raine Study to examine the impact of common health conditions such as arthritis, asthma and anxiety on work productivity in young employed adults.

Senior author John Curtin Distinguished Professor Leon Straker, from Curtin’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, said keeping young people healthy and productive was essential to supporting a high standard of living for society.

“Despite a common belief that young workers are healthy, we found that more than half of the young adults involved in this study experienced multiple health conditions,” Professor Straker said.

“We also found that there was a significant link between multiple health conditions in young workers and poor productivity in the workplace.

“Of all the health conditions investigated, we found that young adults who were living with musculoskeletal, sleep and mental conditions experienced poorer work productivity.”

Co-author Dr Pieter Coenen, from the Amsterdam University Medical Centre, said the findings highlighted the importance of taking early preventative measures to minimise the impact of health disorders among young workers.

“The number of people living with more than one long-term health condition is expected to rise in the coming years, so it is important for strategies to be implemented at the start of young workers’ careers to reduce the burden,” Dr Coenen said.

“These could include reducing the prevalence of multiple health conditions, increasing employees’ ability to cope with their condition, and improving the accessibility of workplaces for employees with health conditions.”

The research was co-authored by researchers from the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science and the Curtin Business School at Curtin University, the University of Sheffield in the UK, and the Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, in the Netherlands.

The research paper titled, ‘Multimorbidity is common among young workers and related to increased work absenteeism and presenteeism: results from the population-based Raine Study cohort’, can be found online here.

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